Rookie Corner – 339 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 339

A Puzzle by Zorro

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.

Bravo Zorro.  Very little, if anything, to fault in the clues.  This was enjoyable and, part from there being much to like, the overuse of the word like was all that stood out in the cluing.  The commentometer reads and 1/2 / 28 or 1.7%.  Another like this and promotion to the NTSPP beckons.


1 Role of drum machine in countercultural movement (4,10)
BEAT GENERATION – Double definition, the first being the production of a rhythm and the second a description of a 1960’s countercultural literary movement.

9 Magnify energy by ten to fifty (5)
EXTOL – The abbreviation for energy followed by how you would say ten to 50 using Roman numerals.

10 Political Declaration is evident rot, essentially (9)
MANIFESTO – An eight-letter word meaning evident followed by the middle letter (essentially) of rot.

11 Agreeable to notch up a few victories (7)
WINSOME – Split 4,3 this would mean to have achieved a certain number of victories.

12 Hecate, chief of hags, upset cat (7)
CHEETAH – An anagram (upset) of HECATE H (first letter – chief – of hags).

13 Principals in light entertainment and dance show? (5)
LEADS – The initial letters (principals) in the final five words of the clue.

14 That oddly quiet hoofer – or this noisy one? (3,6)
TAP DANCER – The odd letters in that followed by the abbreviation for quiet and a six-letter word for a hoofer.

17 Sunk, like some croutons? (2,3,4)
IN THE SOUP – Cryptic definition by reference to where you might find croutons.

19 Trump’s core supporters brought back chaos in America (5)
SNAFU – The middle letter (core) of Trump and a four-letter word for supporters all reversed (brought back).

20 Venus, for one, moves south – about two degrees (7)
GODDESS – A four-letter word meaning moves and the abbreviation for south around the abbreviation for degrees twice.

23 Long period certain to result in obliteration (7)
ERASURE – A three-letter word for a long period followed by a four-letter word meaning certain.

24 Stubborn stain to be treated (9)
OBSTINATE – An anagram (treated) of STAIN TO BE.

25 Middle Eastern terrorists disembowelled Qatari (5)
IRAQI – A three-letter abbreviation for a terrorist group followed by the outer letters (disembowelled) of Qatari.

26 Epistle addressed to group, like the Second of John? (8,6)
CIRCULAR LETTER – What is the description of the O (second) in John.


1 Dish of grouse followed by well mixed gin and tonic (three parts) (4,10)
BEEF WELLINGTON – A four-letter word meaning grouse followed by the well from the clue, an anagram (mixed) of GIN and the first three letters of tonic.

2 Like some TV news Mr Snow might finally present (9)
ATTENDANT – The time at which the ITV news appears followed by the first name of the younger Mr Snow and the final letter of might.

3 Head of gallery approves frame for hanging (7)
GALLOWS – The first letter (head) of gallery followed by a six-letter word meaning approves.

4 Second movement (6,3)
NUMBER TWO – Double definition of a person who is second in line and a bowel movement.

5 Head in charge of old characters (5)
RUNIC – A three-letter word meaning head followed by the abbreviation for in charge.  

6 Employees without direction ruined tea cloth (7)
TAFFETA – A five-letter word for employees without the initial S (without direction) followed by an anagram (ruined) of tea cloth.

7 Assault on television (5)
ONSET – The on from the clue followed by a three-letter word for a television.

8 One in the habit of bossing her sisters around? (6,8)
MOTHER SUPERIOR – Cryptic definition of the nun in charge of a convent.

15 Young dog, one like Toto, eternally poeticised in Oz? (9)
PUPPETEER – A three-letter word for a young dog followed by a three-letter word for a domestic animal such as Toto and a three letter word meaning eternally in poetic language.

16 Clotting agent damaged a lung within membrane (9)
COAGULANT – An anagram (damaged) of A LUNG inside a four-letter word for a membrane or outer covering.

18 Like a keen learner, say, one in each class initially (7)
ELEGIAC – The abbreviations for learner and for example followed by the letter representing one all inside the two-letter abbreviation for each and the initial letter for class.

19 Strand of DNA is seen to be twisted – get the news out! (7)
SEASIDE – An anagram (twisted )of DNA IS SEEN after removing each letter N (get the News out).

21 From behind a shield take stock (5)
DASHI – The answer is hidden (from) in the second to fourth words of the clue.

22 Silence piercing instrument – it’s a wrap! (5)
SHAWL – A two-letter word meaning be quiet followed by a three-letter word for a tool that pierces things.

32 comments on “Rookie Corner – 339

  1. Thanks Zorro for an entertaining second Rookie which I think is more ‘polished’ than the first apart from, for me, the ‘toilet humour’ of 4d.
    I did like 14a, 17a, and 1d.
    Thanks again and thanks in advance to Prolixic for his words of wisdom.

  2. We thought this was a really well put together puzzle. Started well with the clever 1a which was ‘probably our favourite but there were plenty of others we could have chosen.
    Thanks and well done Zorro.

  3. Hi Zorro,
    This is a really strong second puzzle – I thought a few times that I was solving a Monday Rufus puzzle of old!!, what with your clever and witty cryptic clues such as 1a, 17a & 8d. 15d was my favourite, especially the definition. I am hopeless at spotting themes in blocked puzzles but do letters 4-to-7 in 4d have related significance? Perhaps not!
    I’ve made some notes on each clue as I solved which I am happy to share with you if you’d like but which contain too many spoilers to post here. If yes, then ask Big Dave to put us in email contact and I will send them across – I won’t be offended if not, though!
    Cheers all,

    1. Thank you, that’s high praise indeed! I’d be very happy for Big Dave to put us in email contact so that you can share your notes. Thank you for the offer.

  4. Welcome back, Zorro. This was a very good second offering in Rookie Corner which showed a lot of progress from your encouraging debut puzzle in May. It was accessible and good fun with mostly very smooth surfaces (although I confess I can’t make any sense of the surface of 22d) and clever, accurate cluing.

    I used my BRB to check my answer to 21d which was a new word for me, and I needed Google to understand the reference to Oz in 15d. Full marks for indicating the American term in 19a.

    My page is littered with ticks – too many to list them all but I will give special mentions to all four of the long peripheral clues plus 10a, 13a & 15d.

    Well done and thank you, Zorro. Please keep them coming.

  5. A very enjoyable crossword – I’ll even forgive the ‘movement’ in 4d as the solution is obviously a Nina

    Thank you Zorro for the fine accompaniment to my breakfast cereal and thanks, in advance, to Prolixic

  6. A superb puzzle with smooth surfaces and witty clues which would have made an excellent Telegraph back-pager – thanks Zorro.
    The highlights for me were 10a, 1d, 8d and 15d.
    More like this would be exceedingly welcome.

      1. You’re probably right, Silvanus – 4d might need a bit of a tweak from the DT editor, but it made me laugh. Do you think it would have been accepted in the Guardian?

  7. Thanks Zorro – I enjoyed that, toilet humour and all! Special mention should also go to 19a and 15d, which I thought were both great clues – well done. I’m not completely sold on 14a; and I’ve not quite figured out 18d (but will tomorrow, hopefully). These are minor quibbles though. Overall a fun solve – thanks again!

  8. Welcome back, Zorro.

    There have been instances where a new setter’s second puzzle has not lived up to the promise of their first, but this was definitely note the case here. I thought it was excellent. The number of anagrams was wisely reduced from last time and the overall standard was notably better. Some clues like 15d and 18d were exceptionally clever, but my personal picks were 1a, 10a, 24a and 8d. “Might” in 2d jarred somewhat, but I had no other quibbles. 21d was new to me as well, and almost certainly a grid-filler, I suspect.

    If this standard can be maintained, then a very bright future as a setter beckons, I would suggest.

    Many thanks and congratulations, Zorro.

  9. Overall a very solid puzzle, well done Zorro
    I had one or two minor niggles – which could easily be put down to taste; eg I wasn’t keen on 4d or the answer to 19a lowering the tone
    Having said that, there were far more ticks than nose-wrinkles so on balance very good
    Thanks for the entertainment

  10. An excellent follow up puzzle, Zorro, even though I didn’t care for the manner in which you mentioned the fact in 4d!
    I thought you did a very good job of hiding definitions in plain sight and I had big ticks alongside 10 of the clues – 10,11,12,17&26a plus 1,3,7,8&19d.
    My only niggle concerned the over-use of ‘like’ – perhaps you could have found an alternative in a couple of cases?

    I look forward to tackling more of your compilations, you appear to have a bright future ahead of you with this setting lark!

  11. Thank you very much everyone for the feedback, and to Big Dave for hosting this puzzle. Sorry about a certain clue that wasn’t to everyone’s taste. I find it hard to resist something puerile (and I often do the Guardian crossword, so I could blame that as a bad influence!).

    1. Hi Zorro – I regularly do the Guardian too, but I don’t take much notice of it
      Aim for Telegraph, Indy or Times standards when setting and you won’t go far wrong
      Thanks again

  12. No complaints from me over 4d & 19a, both of which made me smile. I thought this delightfully clued throughout with 21d the only obscurity requiring confirmation from Mr G. 1a&d got the crossword off to a cracking start & the standard was maintained with 8d probably my pick of many fine clues. Better & more fun than today’s DT back pager in my opinion. I shall seek out your first effort in the archive.
    Thanks Zorro

  13. Terrific puzzle. Many thanks, Zorro for the challenge. There were some great clues and I especially liked 26a. I have never heard of 21d but I will research it now.
    I look forward to more from you.

  14. Still no answer for 19a and 19d but completed the rest this morning and enjoyed the challenge.
    Thank you Zorro.

    1. Just found the Americanism with Google’s help, this slotted in the answer to 19d also. Frustration over!

  15. Loved this Zorro, one has to marvel at the inventiveness of some of the cluing, as in 19a, a word I’d never heard of but got from the clever and witty wordplay, along with 19d and 25a to mention but a few.
    It may be of questionable taste but 4d was my favourite, it certainly induced a smile and is one of the best double definitions I’ve come across. Also particularly liked 10a
    Many thanks.

  16. Apologies but the review will be delayed until tomorrow evening as I had a long work meeting in the evening that meant I have not had time to write the review.

  17. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, looks as though Zorro is well on his way to the NTSPP slot – and maybe further?

  18. I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle last evening. It is a very good offering, although I wasn’t much taken by 4d. My fave selection includes 10a, 12a, 14a, 17a, 19a, 26a and 1d, 2d, 8d and 19d.
    Very well done Zorro, and what an excellent comment from Prolixic! I hope we shall indeed soon be seeing your puzzles in the NTSPP — and, in due course, perhaps elsewhere…

    Very many thanks to Prolixic for the review, which is always much appreciated.

  19. As an occasional lurker on Big Dave’s site, I’ve only just found Rookie Corner so Zorro is my first experience of the “novice” setters. And, this is my first contribution to the critique so I hope I follow the protocols In the interests of being helpful, I have referred to other publications too which seems to be OK.

    If this is anything to go by, my friend, you have a fine future beckoning. I very much enjoyed the vast majority of your clueing. I understand 4d is not going to be to everyone’s taste. As noted already, it certainly wouldn’t be out of place in the Guardian and their most prolific setter (I suspect the UK’s most prolific setter), Paul (John Halpern), would positively love it. If you Google your answer and him together, you’ll find he’s used it several times.

    I could repeat Encota’s offer @3 in that I, too, made some notes and I’m keen not to spoil with direct reference to wordplay and definitions. In more generalised form: 12ac misled me beautifully, 14ac is a nice juxtaposition of opposites, cracking topical surface in 19ac, I liked the misleading surface in 20ac and 25 ac is smooth too – if rather chilling as a clue. Turning to the downs, the device in 2d is very neat and, whilst I suspect I might have seen a similar construction to 3d, your clue has a beautifully coherent surface. I loved the definition element of 5d and not a wasted word in the clue. Likewise, the definition in 18d – though a less smooth surface. Your lurker in 21d was clever and, again, misled. My favourites were 26 ac – just a delightful way of looking at it – and the very clever device and utterly misleading surface in 19d.

    Very few criticisms – but that is, if I understand it, part of the purpose of this site. The risk you run with the two long solutions at 1ac and 1d is, if they do fall quickly and they did for me, it opens up a huge number of initial letters which gives your solvers an easy ride. (Exactly what happened in the Guardian today, btw). 1ac was well clued but the two elements both trumpeted the solution to me. And, with the initial letter in place, 1d followed quickly. 10ac is solid but the definition leapt out meaning the wordplay didn’t get to do its job; the enumeration and the word ‘crouton’ made 17ac a read and write; I think 24ac is a bit of a chestnut and, for me, 8d – whilst nicely worded – was a little bit obvious. We all loved Rufus on a Monday but the cryptic/double definitions can sometimes leap off the page. (In my opinion, I’d see this as a notch up from Rufus for sure)
    Many congratulations. Apologies if this is too long – others don’t seem to have written as much. I wanted to give you some sense of WHY I liked as well as WHAT I liked.

    1. Thank you, Postmark, for your post. No apologies needed as far as I am concerned regarding length or criticisms. It’s all useful feedback and I appreciate the time you took to go into such detail.

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